Installation View

The Manhattan Art Review: Carriage Trade

by Sean Tatol

May, 2024

The Madness of Crowds

May 16, 2024 – June 30, 2024

a grid of framed images
Erased Lynching Series # 4, 2023

Artists: Carl Theodore Dreyer, Ken Gonzales-Day, David Howe, Sigmar Polke, Zoe Pettijohn Schade, Rosemarie Trockel, Weegee

Excerpt:

Carriage Trade at it again with another edition of the best group show in town. Sure, The Passion of Joan of Arc is hard to beat, but for one thing, who else would put it in a group show, and, for two, who else could curate a group show that adequately fits it into the show’s thesis and not just riding on Dreyer’s coattails? Certainly no one else would put it next to an episode of The Twilight Zone (“The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”). But why not? It’s a tragedy that only Carriage Trade would, because such leaps of associative logic are exactly what good curation consists of. Namely, bringing the apparently unlike together into something that suggests correlations that aren’t readily apparent. It’s not even that hard to make those connections if you’re aided by a good idea, as this show is with the subject of the crowd, specifically mob rule and the vindictive retribution of a mass that has perceived a real or imagined persecution. Thus we get Joan of Arc and suburban paranoia, but also student protests (a student film featuring Martin Scorsese and Harvey Keitel, police manuals on riots), the edifices of state and authority (Pettijohn Schade’s crumbling monuments, Trockel’s left side of her diptych of people climbing the walls of the Capitol), the unreality of digital life (Howe’s North Korean propaganda-style painting of Mark Zuckerberg, Trockel’s right side of the diptych of a woman in a VR sci-fi headset), murder (Weegee’s photo of a crowd after a shooting), and lynchings (Ken Gonzales-Day’s unbelievable collection of lynching postcards with the victims edited out, excising the violence-porn spectacle but retaining all the horror that such things actually existed). The show presents real-life phenomena without flat didactics, which is what separates something like Trockel’s painting, a measured reflection on our contemporary condition of mass hysteria and distantiation, from the insipid tut-tutting of all that anti-Drumpf art that mistakes hysterical virtue-signaling for praxis. To the extent that art is political at all it does so by representing the nuance and complexity of life instead of mere sloganeering, and it’s a difficult task to articulate that. By nature it’s far more ambiguous than most people are comfortable with in these times where social polarization demands constant affirmations of whichever camp one belongs to, but, like curation, if you cut corners and go for the obvious you’re not likely to end up accomplishing very much.

To read full review visit Manhattan Art Review here.

 

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